Why Are Young Adults So Mean? Reasons and Solutions

why are young adults so mean

You may have heard people asking, why are young adults so mean? Are they really, or is this just another one of many misconceptions about young adults?

Young adults as a group are not so mean. There are no characteristics that are specific to all young adults that would cause people to interpret their behavior as mean. People of all ages can exhibit behaviors that others may perceive as mean or unkind.

It is important to remember that everyone has their own unique perspectives and experiences, which can influence how they interpret the actions of others. It is always a good idea to communicate openly and honestly with others and approach situations with empathy and understanding. This can help to prevent misunderstandings and promote positive relationships.

With that said, let’s dive into this post to discover why there is a general perception that young adults are so mean, where this misconception comes from, and what we can all do to correct it.

Are Young People Mean or Not Mean?

The argument about young people being mean or not mean is complex, and there are valid points on both sides of the debate. On the one hand, it is true that some young people exhibit behaviors that could be considered mean or hurtful, such as bullying, teasing, or gossiping. These behaviors can have severe consequences for both the target and the perpetrator and contribute to a negative perception of young people.

On the other hand, it is crucial to remember that not all young people behave this way and that many are kind, compassionate, and committed to positive social change. Plus, it is essential to consider the broader social and cultural factors that may contribute to mean behavior among young people, such as peer pressure, social media, or trauma.

We should all recognize that young people are not a monolithic group and that experiences and behaviors can vary widely depending on factors such as gender, race, socioeconomic status, and cultural background. Stereotyping young people as a group based on negative behaviors exhibited by a minority can be unfair and unproductive.

While it is true that some young people exhibit behaviors that could be considered mean, this is not a universal characteristic of young people.

Rather than focus on the question, why are young adults so mean? it is also important to consider the broader social and cultural factors that may contribute to meanness and to avoid stereotyping young people based on negative behaviors exhibited by a minority. Instead, we should work to promote positive behaviors and values among all young people and support those who may be struggling with emotional or behavioral issues.


Why are young adults perceived as mean?

It’s worth reiterating that research has shown that perceptions of young adults as mean or disrespectful may not be accurate. Studies have found that young adults are actually more likely than older adults to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as volunteering and helping others.

Ultimately, we should all recognize that individuals vary in their behavior and attitudes, regardless of their age. While some young adults may exhibit behaviors that could be perceived as mean, it’s not fair or accurate to generalize an entire generation based on the actions of a few individuals.

what to do about young adults meanness

Some young people, like every other age group, do, however, exhibit certain behaviors that could be perceived as mean. We find that the following factors could be causative factors in such cases.

Limited life experience: Young adults are often still developing their social skills and emotional regulation, which can lead to occasional lapses in judgment or behavior that others might perceive as mean. They may also be less adept at recognizing and responding to others’ emotional needs.

Stereotypes and media portrayals: Young adults are often portrayed in popular media as self-centered, entitled, and disrespectful. These stereotypes can lead to negative perceptions of young adults as a group.

Social comparison: As people age, they may view younger generations as less respectful or polite than their own generation was at the same age. This can lead to a bias against young adults and a perception that they are mean or disrespectful.

It’s important to note that these perceptions are not universal or objective. Many young adults are kind, empathetic, and respectful, just as many people of all ages can struggle with these qualities at times.

It’s also important to consider that people’s perceptions of young adults may be influenced by their own experiences and interactions. If someone has had negative experiences with young adults, such as being bullied or mistreated, they may be more likely to view young adults as mean or hostile.

Furthermore, there may be cultural or societal factors at play that contribute to negative perceptions of young adults. For example, in some cultures, young adults are expected to be obedient and deferential to elders, and any deviation from this norm might be seen as disrespectful or mean.

Young adults’ behaviors that Can be interpreted as meanness include

Again, it is inaccurate to make blanket statements about any age group, including young adults, as having a greater likelihood of exhibiting negative behaviors. While certain behaviors may be more prevalent among certain age groups due to factors such as social norms or developmental stage, it is important to recognize that individuals vary widely in their experiences and behavior.

That being said, some young adults may exhibit negative behaviors for various reasons. Some such behaviors that could be perceived as mean include:

Insensitivity: Young adults may not always be aware of how their words or actions affect others. They may make insensitive remarks or engage in teasing or bullying without fully understanding the impact of their behavior. They may also not care about how their words affect others.

Differences in communication styles: Older adults and younger adults may have differences in the way that they communicate with each other. What young adults interpret as normal communication with their peers may be regarded as rudeness by older generations. Young people may address themselves with what older people may consider rude names or even rude mannerisms, but among young adults is acceptable.

Self-centeredness: Young adults may be more focused on their own needs and desires than on those of others. This can lead to behaviors such as interrupting others, monopolizing conversations, or ignoring the feelings and opinions of others.

Impulsivity: Young adults may be more likely to act impulsively without fully thinking through the consequences of their actions. This can lead to behaviors such as lashing out in anger or making reckless decisions that hurt others.

Cliquishness: Young adults may form exclusive groups or cliques, which can lead to excluding others and creating a sense of exclusion or ostracism.

Social media behavior: Young adults may use social media in ways that can be perceived as mean, such as cyberbullying, spreading rumors, or posting hurtful comments.

Disrespect: Young adults may not always show respect for authority figures, such as parents, teachers, or bosses. They may challenge rules or expectations and be dismissive of others’ opinions.

Gossiping: Young adults may gossip or spread rumors, hurting and damaging others.

why are young adults so mean

Competition: Young adults may be highly competitive, which can lead to behaviors such as bragging, putting others down, or engaging in backstabbing.

Effects of Substance abuse: Some young adults may engage in substance abuse or risky behaviors, which can have negative consequences for themselves and others.

Lack of accountability: Young adults may struggle to take responsibility for their actions or apologize when they have hurt someone. They may shift blame onto others or deny any wrongdoing.

Lack of life experience: Some people may perceive young adults as mean because they lack life experience and may not understand the impact of their words and actions on others.

Peer pressure: Young adults may feel pressure to conform to certain social norms or engage in behaviors that are considered cool or popular, even if those behaviors are hurtful or mean.

Social media: Social media has given young adults a platform to express their opinions and engage in social interactions, but it can also facilitate mean behavior such as cyberbullying, trolling, or spreading rumors.

Cultural differences: Different cultures may have different social norms and values, and what is considered acceptable behavior in one culture may be seen as mean or disrespectful in another.

Lack of emotional regulation: Some young adults may struggle with emotional regulation and may react impulsively or lash out in anger, which can be perceived as mean.

Insecurity and low self-esteem: Some young adults may feel insecure or have low self-esteem, which can lead them to engage in mean behavior to elevate their own status or make themselves feel better.

Trauma or adverse childhood experiences: Young adults who have experienced trauma or adverse childhood experiences may struggle with emotional and behavioral issues that can manifest as meanness or aggression.

Environmental factors: Some young adults may grow up in environments that are characterized by violence, poverty, or other challenges, which can lead to a culture of meanness or aggression.

Lack of social skills: Some young adults may lack social skills and struggle to communicate effectively or build positive relationships, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflict.

Lack of role models: Young adults may lack positive role models or mentors who can guide them in developing positive social skills and values.

What can young adults do to change The perception That They Are Mean?

If young adults want to change negative perceptions about their generation, here are some steps they can take.

Practice kindness and empathy: One of the most effective ways to combat negative stereotypes is to show compassion and empathy towards others. Young adults can work to be more aware of others’ feelings and needs and make an effort to show kindness and support.

Avoid engaging in behaviors that could be perceived as mean: Young adults can work to avoid engaging in behaviors such as gossiping, teasing, or bullying. Instead, they can focus on building positive relationships and treating others with respect and kindness.

Speak out against meanness and bullying: When they witness others engaging in mean behaviors, young adults can speak up and advocate for the well-being of others. This can include reporting bullying or harassment or simply standing up for someone who is being mistreated.

Volunteer and get involved in the community: Young adults can work to counter negative perceptions by getting involved in their communities and contributing to positive change. This can include volunteering for local charities or organizations, participating in community events, or working to improve their neighborhoods.

Foster positive relationships with people of different ages: Young adults can work to build positive relationships with people of different ages, such as grandparents, parents, or mentors. This can help to break down stereotypes and promote mutual understanding.

By taking these steps, young adults can help to counter negative perceptions about their generation and promote a more positive and inclusive society.

A Few Final Questions

There is no straight answer to the question, why are young adults so mean? As you can see, meanness among young adults is a complex issue with many contributing factors. It can stem from individual personality traits, societal pressures, and past experiences. Social media and technology have also made it easier for young adults to engage in bullying and other forms of cruelty. It’s important for individuals, communities, and society as a whole to work toward creating a culture of kindness and empathy.

This can be done through education, awareness campaigns, and providing support to those who are struggling with meanness or have been victimized by it. Promoting a positive and inclusive environment can help young adults learn to be kinder, compassionate, and ultimately, happier and more successful.

Again, it’s important to remember that not all young adults will exhibit these behaviors and that individuals of any age can struggle with these issues. It’s also important to consider the context and underlying factors that may contribute to certain behaviors, such as mental health issues, trauma, or social pressure. Approaching individuals with empathy, understanding, and a willingness to listen can help to promote more positive interactions and reduce the likelihood of behaviors that may be perceived as mean.

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Christine Udeani, JD
Christine Udeani, JD

Christine is a dedicated mother of six young adults and a teenager who has made significant contributions to the online world through her writing and entrepreneurship. She attended Northwestern University, Strayer University, Thomas M Cooley School of Law, NWCULAW, and holds degrees in business, Law, and Communications. She shares tips and experiences to help young adults and their parents with this generation’s issues.

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